Amoeblog

Sea Monsters -- A Prehistoric Adventure -- 3-D at the California Science Center

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 23, 2007 01:08pm | Post a Comment
The lovely and amazing Ngoc em accompanied me for a viewing of Sea Monsters at the California Science Center, a fact which you probably already gathered from the title and not from hours of watching Forensic Files. The film is structured like a lot of the (superior) BBC Walking With series that focuses on all those crazy monsters that didn't fit on Noah's Ark. Like the Allosaurus episode, Sea Monsters focuses on an slightly anthropomorphic female Dolichorhynchops and her search for a man amidst danger on all sides.


If you're a fan of magic lantern shows, or view masters, then you probably love 3-D. Well, really 4-D, because don't all movies have duration/time, width and height already? Why didn't William Castle think of that?


                     View Master!                                         Magic Lantern!                                 William Castle!

Lars and the Real Girl -- Finally an Idiot Man-Child Film I Wasn't Crazy About

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 22, 2007 01:02pm | Post a Comment
                 Lars... whoops- David Arquette                                                               The real Lars

In Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling plays a shy loner who is henpecked by nagging family and friends determined to engage him. He reacts to their attempts to set him up on dates and hang out in familiar and realistic shy guy fashion. Then he buys a sex doll which he falls in love with and all at once we're transported to a world I could only recognize as the familiarly formulaic "quirky indie film." Of course it's in the Middle West (Ontario in real life), the last bastion of quirky, lovable, soft-headed townsfolk with hearts of gold and fresh-baked good intentions.

What I had hoped was going to be a semi-comic observation along the lines of Punch Drunk Love or Chuck & Buck in one contrived bit plunged straight into the territory of an SNL sketch-cum-movie or an Improv skit that goes on for way too long (i.e. over 3 seconds). OK, it's not as bad as those examples, mostly because of the casting and because you don't have Horatio Sanz cracking up at the hilarity of it all. Ryan Gosling goes a long way in making Lars a character we care about even while the script or direction provide almost no insight into what's going on in his head aside from contrived instances with a psychiatrist. We never know if he really thinks the doll is real; does he ever have moments of clarity? What made him change from a believable loner into a delusional cinematic joke? We never know much of anything that goes on inside. You won't laugh, you won't cry, even though it's calculated to make you do just that. Ultimately Lars is just an icon with funny hair, funny clothes, a funny name and a funny relationship with others a la Napoleon Dynamite. Here's hoping he doesn't similarly inspire a legion of "hipster" imitators or else I'm going to have to make a lot more calls to the Redneck Squad.

Chrissy Plain & Simple

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 18, 2007 10:40pm | Post a Comment
Chris Elliott

The other night I went (blessed with the company of the amazing Ngoc em and her cousin, Bao -- and my co-worker Hiland) to see the filming of the pilot for a Chris Elliott vehicle called Chrissy Plain & Simple. I like the name and concept. Just pure, unadulterated Chris Elliot, without any bells and whistles and jangles and bangles and be-bops and re-rops and flee-flops... or something to that effect. If you're a fan, you know how he just stupidly starts rambling to that effect.

On the downside-- it's sketch comedy with pre-filmed satirical segments that we had to watch a couple of times and force some laughter for the second time around. At one point I looked up at a monitor and the entire frame was filled with my chin and some teeth laughing at nothing but the instructions of the episode's director, Bobcat Goldthwait.

The show takes place on a stage cluttered with Chris Elliot cut-outs of Chris in different poses, always wearing socks regardless of the character being portrayed and, I have to say, his stupid expressions forced me to smile over and over before filming whilst Jimmy Kimmel cracked jokes-- and talked about the fact that he, I and some other guys were all coincidentally wearing maroon shirts.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 14, 2007 09:31am | Post a Comment
   
Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week. We never learned about it in my schools, which prided themselves on being among the most progressive in the country. Every year we celebrated Black History Month, which began, amazingly, in 1926 as Negro History Week back when the Ku Klux Klan enjoyed its peak membership of 4 to 5 million people (or a whopping 15% of the nation's eligible men). Anyway, we students always raised the same questions: Is it in February because it's the shortest month? Where's Asian or Latino History Month? Where's White History Month? I don't recall my teachers having the answers except that we learned plenty of white history year-round and Black History Month was a time to recognize the contributions of a people to American culture who'd been systematically ignored.

So, this year I found out about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which began in 1978 and which I had NEVER heard mentioned. Some Asians I knew had, including, of course, noted justice-minded free-thinker Ngoc-Thu Thi Nguyen. She said it was marked by more documentaries about Japanese Internment Camps being shown on PBS. At the same time, I found out about Hispanic Heritage Month, which I mentioned started in 1968, and which I'd also never heard about. 

New to DVD - The Lookout - spoiler warning - in which the glaringly obvious glares... obviously

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 21, 2007 04:15pm | Post a Comment
The Lookout was written and directed by Scott Frank. It took ten years to get made and is a labor of love... and a big piece of crap. Two thumbs down from Ngoc and me.

It's set in Kansas City. Why? According to Frank, "I spent time there, but mostly what I loved was that there was an urban environment right next to a rural environment and they're very close together. He can live downtown but work two hours away in the middle of nowhere and I really liked that." That is true, if you drive two hours outside Kansas City you're in the sticks, or another city. So, the setting is very important obviously. Kansas City is like a character in the film, you might say. Of course, his observation applies to nearly every city in the country between the east and west coasts. Obviously Frank had a window seat on a cross country flight or maybe a just layover at Kansas City International. And the in-flight entertainment, I'm guessing, was Memento.
 
"I really didn't know why, but I just loved where it was. I loved that the mob was no longer there, that it was sort of a dying mob city and more of a "sons and sons of" place now. I just thought it was kind of interesting. I ended up doing a lot of research." Apparently meaning he watched lots of old movies with Kansas City in the title because Kansas City has a very high crime rate and most gangs there don't look much like the Lookout's.

Kansas City Confidential poster  Kansas City Massacre Kansas City Bomber poster

Note to Frank: If you'd Googled "Kansas City" and "mafia," you'd have learned this:

Despite being in prison in 1995, Anthony “Tony Ripes” Civella was seen as the new crime boss. In 1992 he had been convicted of a scheme to divert pharmaceutical drugs from traditional sellers on to the gray market. He was convicted and sentenced to 4 years. Since 1996 he has been free and very active. The remaining Las Vegas interests fall under power of Kansas City LCN Family member Peter Ribaste. His underboss is William Cammisano, Jr. In 1997 all three were placed in Las Vegas’s Black Book and are barred from casinos in that area. Today the Kansas City LCN [la Cosa Nostra] Family is reported to have 20-30 “made” members and is a very tight knit group controlling many street-level rackets.

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